West Virginia bowhunters upset with NRA proposal for deer hunt

Flatwoods, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia
bowhunters are unhappy with a National Rifle Association push to
open four southern coalfield counties to gun hunting for deer.

During Sunday’s Natural Resources Commission meeting in
Flatwoods, about 152 bowhunters opposed expanding hunting in Logan,
McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties from an archery-only
season.

“We need the NRA to advocate for our Second Amendment right to
bear arms, but we don’t need the NRA’s attempts to manage our
wildlife,” said Ed McMinn, president of the West Virginia
Bowhunters Association.

The Division of Natural Resources closed the four counties to
gun season in 1979, citing a depleted deer population. The agency
has resisted attempts to reinstate a gun season saying the deer
population hasn’t sufficiently rebounded.

Department of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro said he
heard rumors last year that the NRA would try to reverse the
four-county gun ban. During Sunday’s meeting he held up a stack of
postcards he said were from NRA members seeking the change.

No one from the pro-gun organization spoke at the meeting.

“It’s not on our agenda to open a gun season,” Jezioro said,
adding that it’s up to the commission, and not the DNR, to decide
whether to change the season.

If deer populations increase to the DNR’s satisfaction in the
future, Jezioro said the agency might consider proposing a limited
gun season in the four counties. But, he added he doubted the four
would ever be open to general hunting.

Of the 30,749 deer killed by bowhunters last year, 2,513 were
killed in the four counties.

Meanwhile, the commission is considering a DNR proposal to start
West Virginia’s anterless season in September, rather then
October.

Wildlife biologists are proposing a weeklong archery season in
mid-September and a weeklong muzzleloader season in late September.
The seasons could be held in either 22 or up to 37 of the state’s
55 counties.

The commission is expected to consider the two proposals at its
next meeting in either April or May.

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